ECE Funding Handbook

Welcome to the ECE Funding Handbook. This handbook is issued under section 548(5) of the Education and Training Act 2020.

Funding of certain services and certified playgroups – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

The funding paid to licensed services is paid subject to the terms and conditions set out under this handbook and must be complied with. The terms used in this handbook are based in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

This handbook is designed to be a 'one-stop-shop' of everything you need to know about early childhood funding, including:

  • the ECE Funding Subsidy
  • 20 Hours ECE funding
  • equity funding
  • the annual top-up for isolated services.

This information does not apply to certificated playgroups

The information in the Funding Handbook does not apply to certificated playgroups.

These services should contact their Ministry regional office for more information.

Local Ministry offices

Download the ECE Funding Handbook

If you would like to print a copy of this handbook, refer to the list of downloads in the contents section where you will find downloadable PDF versions of each chapter.

ECE Funding Handbook downloads

Chapter 9: Completing the RS7 Return

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The RS7 Early Childhood Funding Return (the RS7 Return) is the main funding return for early childhood education (ECE) services.

All ECE services (or the administrators of a service provider) must complete the RS7 Return in order to receive funding.

In this chapter

This chapter contains the following topics:

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Purpose of the RS7 Return

The RS7 Return tells the Ministry the number of funded child hours (FCHs) that are funded for each service, and the rate at which each FCH will be funded.

Payment cycle

The RS7 Return is completed three times a year:

  • February (payment on the first working day in March).
  • June (payment on the first working day in July).
  • October (payment on the first working day in November).

See Section 24 for details of the funding cycle.

Providing your RS7 Return to the Ministry

Services provide their RS7 Return to Ministry as follows:

Services connected to ELI submit their RS7 Return electronically via ELI Web or their Student Management System (SMS).

Services not connected to ELI, send their RS7 Return by post, using the paper-based RS7 Return sent to them by the Ministry.

Note: Services completing a paper-based RS7 Return must complete and sign the forms in pen. Pencil must not be used. Completed RS7 Returns should be sent:

By post to: By Courier to: By Email to:

ECE Operational Funding

Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666
Fax: (04) 463 8374

ECE Operational Funding

Ministry of Education

1 The Terrace,

Mezzanine floor

Wellington 6011

ECE Operational Funding Mailbox


If you have any questions about the RS7 Return or need help filling it in, please contact the Resourcing Contact Centre:

Phone: (04) 463 8383/ 0800 ECE ECE

ECE Email:

What will my RS7 look like?

The RS7 Return consists of several different sections.

The RS7 return will contain only those sections relevant to you.

The table below shows the sections of the RS7 return your service will receive and the pages in this Chapter where instructions can be found:

     Education & Care services, Hospital-based Sessional Kindergartens Mixed1 & All-Day Kindergartens Home-Based Care Services Play-centres
ECE Funding Subsidy
Section 9-2
yes  yes yes yes yes
20 Hours ECE funding
Section 9-3
yes  yes yes yes yes
Staff Hour Count
Section 9-4
yes no yes no no
Attestation of certificated teachers’ salaries
Section 9-6
yes  no no no no
Support Grant for Provisionally Registered Teachers This section was removed April 2015
Monitoring progress: teacher registration targets
Section 9-8
This section was removed April 2015 
Monitoring progress: children receiving 20 Hours ECE
Section 9-9
This section was removed April 2015
Section 9-10
yes  yes yes yes yes